I’m sure you remember Steve St. Clair and his Sinclair/St. Clair DNA Project. Despite his denials, his website states that he has had “no choice” but to investigate whether Native Americans intermarried with the Sinclair crew and thus inherited Sinclair DNA.* As you may know, Steve St. Clair isn’t the first person to suggest as much, and today I’d like to share with you the crazy racist ideas of Thomas Sinclair, another member of the extended Sinclair lineage from more than a century ago. His ideas lay bare the original agenda of the Sinclair fantasists, one that the modern representatives of the idea may not even be aware of.
[* This sentence was amended to remove a reference to the Knights Templar, which Steve St. Clair denies has a connection to the Sinclair story.]
Thomas Sinclair, M.A. wrote several books in the late 1800s, many of which focused on various aspects of the Sinclair lineage and bloodline. At the time, the dominant alternative theory was that the Norse had discovered America in Viking times, an idea that would eventually be proved true in 1960 with the discovery of L’anse-aux-Meadows. At the time, however, it was still speculative but widely entertained by scholars.
One must remember, of course, that at the time Britain was busy crafting its global empire and seeking a suitable myth in support of its imperial adventures. Granting the Norwegians pride of place in discovering America struck many as sacrilegious, hence the upswing in Prince Madoc stories of the “Welsh” discovery of America. Among the Scots, the Scottish Henry Sinclair seemed a better claimant. Because Henry held his earldom from the Norse king, he therefore could reasonably be attached to the Viking voyages to Vinland and thus allow him a plausible path to establishing the first colony in what is now North America. In America, by contrast, WASPs of all stripes expressed vague discomfort with the idea that an Italian (Columbus) had discovered America, an awkward fact for a country that legally discriminated against Italian immigrants.
So we come to Thomas Sinclair. Unhappy with the idea that an upstart and knave—and worse a mere “Italian”—had discovered America, he spoke out at the time of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which as the Pan-Columbian Exposition was celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, though a year, late about the Sinclair claim to American glory. (This same World’s Fair featured the recreated Norse boat that many believe inspired the Minnesota Viking hoaxes, like the Kensington Rune Stone.) Thomas Sinclair founded an organization, the Society de Santo Claro (Sinclair in Latin) to promote the idea. He differs from most other Sinclair theorists in that he conflated the usual Henry Sinclair with his immediate successor, Henry II Sinclair, and claimed that the latter was the trans-Atlantic voyager. This isn’t really important.
What is important is what Thomas Sinclair thought happened when Henry II got to America. At the July 1893 meeting of the De Santo Claro Society, he bluntly claimed that Henry II “annexed America to his principality,” and thus the continent truly belonged to the Sinclair family. Worse, he claimed that the “continent never lost its white representatives,” who reigned over the benighted Native Americans. Just look at this, as reprinted in his Caithness Events:
Norse and Scotch were hardly the kind of people to neglect the possession of lands, not to say kingdoms; and there is no proof that they did not, again and again, plant colonists whose descendants are now in New England and on other parts of the Atlantic shore. White men would have thus been continuous in America from the ninth century till now, a most interesting problem to authenticate. It is true that Prince Henry, according to the Zeno biography, gave up at one time a colony there; but the book does not come to the close of his life; and he and his great-hearted son, Prince William of Orkney, Lord Nithsdale, Baron of Roslin, and the first recorded Earl of Caithness of his surname, were not the men to be baulked of their high objects. A land without limit like America, would appeal to their heroic persistency; and it is almost assured that they repeated again and again their occupation of the continent. Everyone knows of the traditional rumours that Christian bishops were among the Red Indians, some ascribing their advent to Ireland, some to Wales, whose Celtic books are full of a western land beyond the seas in much earlier centuries than those of Prince Henry and Prince William. It is most akin to historical fact that the clerical and laic white men of Indian legend, were colonists and conquerors from Scandinavia and Scotland; the annexing of savage kingdoms to the church of the pope being, especially in the 14th and 15th centuries, a positive madness of the brain. The Spaniards led by Columbus thought more of the conversion of the Indians to Christianity than they did of gold, though of this they are credited to have been supreme lovers. Later, Mexico and Peru had to be saved, and such salvation! The former, it is true, was by priest-sanctioned cannibalism a pandemonium of blood; and Christian fire may have purified that cookery horror off the face of the earth, as moral sanitation. The New England districts have yet a tale to tell, of Europeans, a century earlier than the Spaniards, carrying the religious and material civilisation of Europe and Asia there; and it may be provable that the remnant never died out, though the puritans of the “May Flower” claim to have been the pioneers of Yankeeland or Englishland. Englishmen, at all periods, have had the useful trick of assuming too much in their own favour; and the nonconformists who left old Plymouth of England to found the new Plymouth of America, had enough of this valuable quality of Emerson’s self-reliance about 1620, when they fled from Archbishop Laud’s ecclesiastical tyranny, to forget that there were whites there long before them. Indeed, the marvellously developed social condition of the Red Indians, with their communal long houses, suggests Norwegian and Scottish training grafted on mere savagery. Fiske exhibits the Delawares and the rest of the native tribes, or six nations or more, in lights absolutely novel to those with the preconceived ideas obtained from Fenimore Cooper’s romantic novels. But enough, in so untrodden but not unpromising field. The De Sancto Claro Society has, however, inquiries and successes in this direction also, as nothing has been more striking than recent American advance in knowledge of the primitive races; scientific precision by and bye perhaps to be able to distinguish external influences over their highly-articulated popular life. Celtic and Norse literature is full of shadowings of ancient intercourse from Europe to America; and such dreamings nearly always, in research, prove to be founded on facts of some extent. The want of historians and the accidents of time have blotted out many a chapter of human experience, now beyond our imagination to fathom; but the acuteness of learning recovers wonderful gold-dust from the river of the past, which becomes in due time coin and currency. It is already pretty certain that the Norse and Scotch heroes left a sprinkling of population, who ruled the Red Indians to some extent, and amalgamated with them. The French half-breeds of Canada show how it could have been done; for before the “brave” was taught the use of gunpowder, he was not the cruel intractable creature with whom the modern mind is familiar. Who is not aware of the freedom with which missionaries went from tribe to tribe in the earlier European periods of America? One lay stranger was so beloved by them that he was called universally their “father.” He, Dr. Patrick Sinclair, was only one of many, from others, too, than the English and Scotch, who experienced ease in guiding these so-called savages; the French at all times most insinuating and charming visitors, whom they never tired of welcoming, with whatever excess or want of wisdom. (pp. 165-167)
And there you have it. Thomas Sinclair was deeply prejudiced against Italians, Native Americans, and the English and thus was extremely pleased to be able to concoct a story whereby the Teutonic Norse and Celtic Scottish “heroes” worked together to reign over a continental kingdom of submissive “red” peoples and raise them up from savagery through tutelage and injections of superior European DNA. But it gets worse. Thomas Sinclair felt that the Henry Sinclair myth was an important step to combating the racial contamination of America:
But to some of the brightest minds of America the burning question has of late been whether the Latin or Saxon race is to have the supremacy of their country; the intense activity of Roman Catholicism contrasted with the apathy of Protestantism giving philosophers and statesmen pause as to the near results, notwithstanding the power of science and reason. The glorification of Columbus in the discovery centenary of 1892 was an aid towards the threatened Spanish or Latin domination; and Scandinavian energy has been in movement, especially at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893, to counteract the southern tide, by ascribing the discovery of America to Norsemen of the Teuton stock, including, as principal factors, the English and the Dutch. Caithnessmen [i.e. the Sinclair bloodline], especially of Canada and the United States, have the strongest personal interest in such a gigantic Armageddon contest of blood and belief, if it is to be early fact. (p. 178)
He concluded by expressing his wish that white northern Europeans would go forth in conquest of “property, knowledge, and rule as of yore.”
When you read the Sinclair theory in such bluntly racist, ethnocentric language it sort of lays bare all the subtext that modern appeals to DNA, diffusionism, and free inquiry work to conceal. This is the legacy of nineteenth century race theory, with its pyramid of development leading from the dim minds and animalistic souls of the dark-skinned to the pure light of God’s own white man: The Native Americans are just too damn primitive to have things like “houses” and “social structure.” They are too racially inferior to have a moral sense until white genes raised them up. (Odd, isn’t it, that Thomas Sinclair had no problem with the Aztecs and Incas having cities? What made them less racially inferior?)
Modern proponents of the Sinclair-Templar-Bloodline nonsense probably never give even a moment’s thought to this subtext, but it’s there, and it is disturbing. How much worse is it to compound this with the modern claim that isn’t just Teutonic-Celtic DNA but the actual seed of God impregnating America with His blessing?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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